BBQ OMG: 11 million barbecues to fail this summer

London – VIJAY SHAH via SWNS digital

It is the middle of summer, and in the UK, that of course means barbecue season. Families and people across the land will be pulling out their grills from the shed after a year of hibernation to fry tonnes of burgers, chops, sausages, kebabs and other meat and vegetarian products, but not all of them will reach the perfect sizzling conclusion, with a group of researchers claiming that up to 11 million British barbecue parties will be ruined this summer alone.

The main reasons for flaming failures, according to the research by meat trade agency Simply Beef & Lamb, are poorly cooked BBQ foods, followed by unwanted company, drunken guests and snacks or drinks running out. Other al fresco eating experiences could also be derailed by a lack of alcohol and bad taste in music or radio station selection. Burnt or undercooked food was the biggest risk factor for a ruined BBQ, with one in five Britons (22 per cent) complaining about it, according to the study, which surveyed a sample of 2,000 adults.

 

 

The massive amount of failed BBQs this year can also be put down to lack of skill in the relevant techniques with the study showing that one in five barbecue organisers struggling with the finer points of well prepared meat and poultry, and almost a quarter (24%) of participants going as far as branding the UK’s collective barbecuing a national disgrace. Twenty seven per cent of the sample claimed to be disgusted by seeing their food cooked on a dirty grill, with another twenty one per cent put off their burgers by guests exhibiting nasty eating habits or ‘table manners’. One in five respondents were annoyed by the British phenomenon of the ‘back-seat BBQer’ – guest who do not cook a single thing themselves but will hover around the person manning the grill, dispensing unwanted advice and criticism of their grilling finesse. Other respondents complained about groups of people huddling around the grill, public displays of affection, a lack of food and drink variety, and controversially, having to cater for vegetarian guests who cannot eat meat.

Simply Beef & Lamb also stated that the average adult will either attend or start up four barbecues in 2017, which adds up to 108 million cookouts among the UK’s 27 million households. The agency’s spokesperson, Nick White, spoke with SWNS news outlet, encouraging British families and friends to keep barbecuing, especially with steak:

“Following our survey, we are launching a campaign to get Brits grilling like Americans, Aussies and Argentinians.

‘We’re asking Brits to banish boring barbecue food and to come together to ‘raise the steaks’.’

‘It’s a misconception that steak is difficult to cook on the barbecue – it’s actually one of the quickest and tastiest meats to prepare on the grill.

‘There are numerous ways to enjoy it, from cutting it into kebabs to marinating it in different flavours.”

TOP 10 SIGNS A BARBECUE HAS FAILED:

  1. Undercooked food
  2. Rain
  3. Burnt food
  4. Bad company
  5. People who are too drunk
  6. Not enough food
  7. Poor BBQ skills
  8. No alcohol
  9. Bad music
  10. Boring and predictable food

TOP 10 BARBECUE BUGBEARS:

  1. Dirty BBQ grill
  2. People with bad eating manners
  3. Criticism and advice from ‘back seat’ BBQ-ers
  4. The amount of smoke from the BBQ
  5. Drunk arguments
  6. Same old bangers and burgers
  7. Vegetarians being awkward
  8. Couples’ public display of affection
  9. All the men huddling around the BBQ
  10. The fact you spend hours cooking and then everyone is too drunk to eat

SOURCE:

“Flaming Failures! 11 Millions Barbecues Will be Spoiled this Summer” – SWNS digital/72Point (1 July 2017) http://www.swnsdigital.com/2017/07/flaming-failures-11-millions-barbecues-will-be-spoiled-this-summer/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Texas – Driftwood: The Salt Lick BBQ – Barbecue pit” – Wally Gobetz, Flickr (17 August 2012) https://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/8061453680

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BREXIT: EU nationals in the UK to stay after country leaves union

gb

London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via Press Association & The Guardian

 

 

The Home Office, the UK government agency in charge of immigration and settlement matters, has announced via various reports that European Union nationals currently residing in Britain will be permitted to continue living there, ending a dilemma for hundreds of thousands of continentals worried about their status post-Brexit, the Guardian reports.

After the July referendum which saw the shock decision by just over half of British voters to get their nation withdrawn from the EU after forty years, European Union citizens were left in the lurch, unsure of their futures, as new prime minister Theresa May refused to give a final definition of their status. Her manoeuvre consisted of a criticised attempt to guarantee the rights of the 1.2 million British emigrants living in Europe, mostly in France and Spain.

It is expected that 80 per cent of the EU citizens currently in the UK will be allowed to stay after Britain triggers Article 50 on membership and leaves the union, widely expected to be in 2019. The 600,000 remaining will be offered an amnesty, the Guardian says. At one point, reports suggested that EU nationals who settled in the UK before the referendum would not be asked to leave. There are believed to be 3.6 million EU nationals working and living across the UK.

Home Office calculations were reported as saying that five out of six EU nationals could not be deported after the country leaves the EU.

SOURCES:
‎Sergio Mourão‎.
EEA visa.. EU free movement, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/groups/650212281695959/?fref=nf
“EU nationals living in UK will be allowed to remain after Brexit – report” – Press Association, The Guardian – home – politics/Guardian News and Media Limited (8 October 2016) https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/oct/08/home-office-says-eu-nationals-living-in-uk-can-remain-after-brexit
IMAGE CREDIT:
“brexit” – portal gda, Flickr (25 June 2016) https://www.flickr.com/photos/135518748@N08/27612677760

 

TOP OF THE FLICKS: The UK’s 50 most popular movies of all time

gb

London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via SWNS digitalhub

A recent survey among UK cinemagoers has revealed that the Seventies musical Grease, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, is the most popular film of all time, SWNS news service reported recently. The romance between high school exchange student Sandy and her beau Danny, set in the 1950s with an iconic soundtrack from the era of fast Harleys and milk bars topped the most popular movie of choice in the poll amongst 2,000 British adults commissioned by www.OnePoll.com. On its release in 1978, Grease blew up the box office, receiving record numbers of cinemagoers thanks to its catchy songs and memorable performances, and it has been lauded by movie critics to this day, with review site Rotten Tomatoes, giving the film a four star rating of 78 per cent.

It’s sequel, Grease 2, as well as its numerous stage show spin-offs still continue to pull in audiences nearly forty years after its initial release.

Second place in the OnePoll survey went to time travelling caper, Back to the Future, closely followed by Eighties kitsch romance Dirty Dancing and Christmas favourites Home Alone and Love Actually.

(c) SWNS digitalhub

Remarkably – despite being one of the highest grossing films of all time, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, is far down the list in 24th place – behind the likes of Mary Poppins and The Wizard of Oz.

 A spokesman for www.OnePoll.com, said: “The results suggest Brits have a particular fondness for feel-good movies.

 “Interestingly, the most popular films are relatively old – perhaps because evoke a sense of nostalgia, reminding respondents of their childhoods.

 “This might explain why movie studios invest so much money in remakes and sequels as seen with the new Star Wars movie and the forthcoming Ghostbusters reboot.”

 Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark came fifth, followed by Nineties favourite Titanic, which catapulted stars Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio into the limelight. Jurassic Park, the classic UK-made song and dance ditty Mary Poppins and children’s film series Toy Story completed the top ten of most adored films in UK cinemas.

Other popular films to feature in the top 50 include The Shawshank Redemption (11), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (17), Jaws (21) and The Lion King (25). Finding Nemo (27), Avatar (35) and Mean Girls (48) also made the list.The most popular film among men is Back to the Future, followed by Steven Spielberg’s classic swashbuckling tale, Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The Jurassic Park movies and their latest released sequel, Jurassic World, about a prehistoric theme park off the coast of central America, and which were also directed by Spielberg, came third among male cinema fans, with the Star Wars series coming off a respectable seventh.

Grease is solidly first place for women while Dirty Dancing is second. Third place belongs to Richard Curtis’ Christmas romance, Love Actually.

Action and adventure was found to be the most popular genre, followed by comedy and sci-fi. Romance only came sixth.

Despite recent box office misfires Johnny Depp, most famous for starring as the titular character of Edward Scissorhands, and the affable rogue Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean films, is Britain’s most favourite actor followed by Tom Hanks and western movie legend and archetypal gunslinger, Clint Eastwood.

Dames Helen Mirren and Judy Dench are the most popular actresses among those polled, with multi Oscar winner Meryl Streep in third place.

Top 50 most watched movies
1. Grease
2. Back to the Future
3. Dirty Dancing
4. Home Alone
5. Love Actually
6. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
7. Titanic
8. Jurassic Park
9. Mary Poppins
10. Toy Story
11. The Shawshank Redemption
12. Bridget Jones’ Diary
13. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
14. The Wizard of Oz
15. Forrest Gump
16. Die Hard
17. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
19. The Goonies
20. Ghostbusters
21. Jaws
22. The Terminator
23. Top Gun
24. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
25. The Lion King
27. Finding Nemo
28. Elf
29. The Silence of the Lambs
30. Alien
31. Monsters, Inc.
32. The Matrix
33. It’s a Wonderful Life
34. Avatar
35. Gladiator
36. Life of Brian
37. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
38. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
39. Edward Scissorhands
40. Groundhog Day
41. The Godfather
42. Pulp Fiction
43. Rocky
44. The Dark Knight
45. Singin’ in the Rain
46. Casablanca
47. Mean Girls
48. Psycho
49. Romeo and Juliet
50. Gone with the Wind
SOURCE/IMAGE CREDIT:
“Top 50 Most Watched Movies of all Time” – SWNS digital/72Point (31 December 2015) http://www.swnsdigital.com/2015/12/top-50-most-watched-movies-of-all-time/

EAST DEVON ROMAN HOARD: Builder uncovers 20,000 ancient coins in field

A semi-retired builder searching for treasure in the east of the English county of Devon struck historical gold after recently uncovering a hidden hoard of around 20,000 coins dating from the Roman occupation of Britain, national newspaper the Daily Mail reports. The collection of coins, believed to be in the value of £100,000 (US $162,440) was chanced upon by builder and amateur metal detecting enthusiast Laurence Egerton in east Devon, an area in south-western England famed for its picturesque moors and fields.

The hoard of Roman money is believed to be one of the largest hauls of historical coinage ever discovered in the U.K. Egerton, aged 51, was in a local field searching for finds with his metal detector when he stumbled across the hoard of copper-alloy coins, possibly low-denomination coinage issued by the Roman Empire for use by their colonists in their northern most province. The Daily Mail reported that Egerton was so concerned about the possibility of his hoard being stolen that he camped out in the field for three nights, guarding the discovery site while archaeologists arrived to explore the site in more detail.

Dubbed the Seaton Down Hoard, the assortment of 22,000 copper-alloy coins may have been the accumulated savings of a private individual keeping the money safe for a ‘rainy day’ or an informal and well-hidden bank of wages perhaps left by a Roman soldier. It is likely the hoarder died or lost track of the burial site leaving the coins to lay unseen for nearly two thousand years. A picture supplied to the Daily Mail by the British Museum and picture agency Apex shows the Seaton Down Hoard contained in a heavy duty plastic box. The coins appear in still good condition despite being buried for two millennia, but all show signs of corrosion, namely a green rust called verdigris, caused by the copper in the coins reacting with moisture and acids from their surroundings. Many of the coins bear the usual emperor’s profile of Roman coinage and some show two standing figures which possibly have allegorical origins. An analysis by local historian Bill Horner determined that the coins dated back to between 260-348 AD and bear portraits of the Roman emperor Constantine, other emperors ruling alongside him, members of his family. Emperors that ruled either side of Constantine’s reign also make an appearance. According to Horner, Britain at that time was in a prosperous financial state with many Romans and natives flush with money. As one of the outermost provinces of the Roman Empire, Britannia, as the Romans knew it, was a relatively safe area at a time when rebellions on the European mainland against Roman colonial rule made matters unstable there. The Roman colonists in Britain escaped the worst of the tensions and maintained their high standards of living, building many luxurious villas in the south of England. However, freedom struggles and numerous invasions and episodes of infighting in the Empire soon brought financial uncertainty to the rich Romans and Romanised Britons of east Devon, who started hoarding as a security measure.

Romanised farms, or Villas including several in East Devon, were at their richest.

‘But the province was ultimately drawn into Imperial power struggles that, along with increasing attacks from Germanic, Irish and Caledonian tribes, resulted in the rapid decline and end of Roman rule.

‘Coastal areas such as East Devon were on the front-line, and this may be the context for the coin hoard.

‘There were no high street banks, so a good, deep hole in the ground was as secure a place as any to hide your savings in times of trouble, or if you were going away on a long journey.

‘But whoever made this particular deposit never came back to retrieve it” Horner explained.

(c) British Museum via Joanne Bailey.

Believed to have been buried in the 4th century AD, the Seaton Down Hoard is only the third largest such discovery in recent times. In 2010, the Frome Hoard made headlines with its total of 52,503 coins. The second largest was the Nether Compton hoard of 22,703 found in the neighbouring county of Dorset in 1989. Laurence Egerton’s find has been declared ‘treasure trove’ under a Crown law for the protection of British antiquities. A Devon Coroner’s inquest held earlier this month saw the coins donated to the British Museum who are now holding the Seaton Down collection in storage.

A video shot by Egerton shows him wearing gloves and extracting the dirt covered coins from a pit in a muddy field. Despite the muck, archaeologists reckon that his find is one of the best preserved findings of coinage from the last centuries of the Roman Empire in Britain they have ever witnessed. The video later shows archaeologists working on site removing clumps of coins heavily concentrated in a non-descript part of the field.

Interest in the Seaton Down coins, which do not contain any gold or silver, have nevertheless soared between the many museums in Britain concerned with Roman antiquities. The Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) in Exeter, the county town (capital) of Devon already houses a formidable collection of Romano-British artefacts from the local area and is eager to acquire the coins, and is running a fundraising campaign to purchase the coins outright from the British Museum to display for the benefit of local historians, researchers and students.

Although only reported this month, Laurence Egerton made the initial discovery in November 2013 after obtaining permission from the landowner of the field in Honeyditches, eastern Devon, where previously the remains of a Roman villa, or country home had been noted. The find was then reported to the landowner, a privately-owned company named Clinton Devon Estates, in accordance with the Treasure Act 1996, a parliamentary legal instrument aimed at safeguarding artefacts of national and historical value.

In an interview with the Daily Mail newspaper, Mr Egerton said: “It’s by far the biggest find I’ve ever had. It really doesn’t get any better than this.

‘Between finding the hoard and the archaeologists excavating the site, I slept in my car alongside it for three nights to guard it.

‘On this occasion, the ground where I was working was quite flinty and I found what I thought were two Roman coins which is actually quite unusual in Devon.

‘As I began working in a grid formation in the surrounding area I had a signal on the metal detector which means that there is probably iron involved.

‘Most detectors are set up to ignore iron but I decided to dig the earth at that spot and immediately reached some iron ingots which were laid directly on top of the coins’

‘The next shovel was full of coins – they just spilled out over the field.

The coins may have originally being held in a cloth bag at the time of their deposition, but that the ravages of time and chemicals from the nearby soil might have caused the bag to rot away leaving the coins to scatter underground. The find is said to be unusual for the region as the county’s acidic soils would normally decompose any metal left in it, yet the coins are in a remarkable state of preservation.

The United Kingdom, with the exception of Scotland, became part of the Roman Empire in a 55 BC invasion of the area by renowned emperor Julius Caesar, who wrested control from the numerous Celtic tribes previously settled there. Many of the conquered Celts were permitted to continue striking their own coins, which were often modelled on imported Greek coins but made more simplified by the native minters. The Romans began importing their own coinage, mainly to pay Roman soldiers and imperial mercenaries stationed in the UK, and also began minting coins locally and to celebrate their victories in Britain. The gold aureus was used for large payments, but not much for day-to-day transactions. It had a fixed value of 25 denarii until at least 200 AD. The silver denarius was the main coin of value in general circulation. The low value coinage of sestertii, dupondii, and asses was struck variously in bronze, orichalcum and copper. Denarii were paid to soldiers at a rate of one a day, while asses, or aes, were believed to have been used to pay for supplies obtained from local traders by the Romans. However by the time of the Seaton Down Hoard, Roman British coinage had become almost worthless owing to imperial financial mismanagement and debasing of the hard currency.

SOURCES:
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/
“Builder unearths vast treasure trove of 22,000 Roman coins worth up to £100,000 – then spends three nights sleeping on site to guard his hoard” – Victoria Woollaston, Mail Online – Science & Tech/Associated Newspapers Ltd (26 September 2014) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2770576/Builder-unearths-vast-treasure-trove-22-000-Roman-coins-spends-three-nights-sleeping-site-guard-hoard.html
XE  http://www.xe.com/
“Coinage In Roman Britain The Coinage Of Britain During The Roman Occupation” – Peter R Thompson, The Ormskirk and West Lancashire Numismatic Society http://www.numsoc.net/rombrit.html
IMAGE CREDIT:
Joanne Bailey, Twitter https://twitter.com/JBHist
VIDEO CREDIT:
“Seaton Down Hoard – 22,000 Roman Coins unearthed in Devon” – ClintonDevonEstates, YouTube GB (26 September 2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRq0SSgKvwo

 

GSK CHINA CONTROVERSY: British PM risks ‘diplomatic tensions’

As the United Kingdom government prepares for a trade mission visiting China to woo the country’s investors to trade with Britain, a controversy involving a British company threatens to destabilise relations between the U.K. and China, overshadowing the upcoming visit. The international pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is currently under investigation by the Chinese government over alleged accusations that it behaved like a ‘criminal godfather’ in an expansive network of bribes and kickbacks.

The British Prime Minister David Cameron has stepped into the debacle by inviting the GSK chief executive officer Andrew Witty to join his delegation on the trade mission to the People’s Republic. Cameron’s invitation to Witty has raised concerns in some quarters that relations between Britain and China could degenerate if Witty participates in the mission, according to an article published today by the Huffington Post blog and news magazine. 

GlaxoSmithKline
GlaxoSmithKline (Photo credit: Ian Wilson)

The offices of GSK in Brentford, Middlesex, UK. One of the company’s main management offices in Britain.

GSK’s Chinese division, which employs a workforce of around 7,000, was placed under investigation in July 2013 over allegations that it behaved as a Mafia godfather, using its prominence in the Chinese drugs market to act as the ringleader of a nationwide medicines bribery network. The manufacturer is accused of channelling up to 3 billion yuan (£303 million) to several doctors, hospitals and clinics to boost its drug sales and rig the country’s pharma market in its favour. The bribery operations are believed to have run since 2007.

In an investigation lasting six months, Chinese police uncovered 700 middlemen who operated via GSK and transferred funds to hospitals and medical staff to encourage them to only prescribe GSK’s drugs to patients. The money was funnelled through a series of bogus travel agencies and consultancies, according to Chinese investigators. Middlemen would bribe senior GSK executives with favours, including alleged ‘sexual kickbacks’ and cash bribes, to win trading privileges. Doctors involved in the bribery network would be issued with special credit cards tied to GSK business accounts. The doctors would then collect financial incentives to prescribe GSK drugs rather than generics or products of rival manufacturers. One travel agency suspected by police to have links to the GSK bribery network never sold any airline tickets or holiday packages but still had a turnover of tens of millions of yuan. One Chinese newspaper claimed that the agencies would set up fictitious corporate meetings that required staff travel. The budgets for these meetings that were officially meant to go on staff travel expenses were taken off-book and used to line corrupt medical professionals’ pockets.

Four senior Chinese members of GSK’s staff have already been detained and the head of Chinese operations for GSK’s headquarters in the UK has left the country and not returned, according to The Telegraph newspaper. GSK has also been investigated over tax irregularities concerning its drug sales.

Gao Feng, head of the economic crimes investigation unit at the Ministry of Public Security, has expressed publicly the controversial belief among Chinese lawmakers that bribery is an ingrained part of GSK’s business dealings. Feng said in July: “From our investigation, bribery is part of the strategy of this company. This is why they have bribery activities in China.

They used travel agents as a money platform. But I must make it clear that among these partners, GSK is the main party responsible. It is like a criminal organisation, there is always a boss. In this game, GSK is the godfather.

The investigators also claim that requests for information from GSK’s British headquarters have met with no response. Feng also stated then that similar bribery networks set up by other international pharmaceutical firms operating in China could also be uncovered by the police and ministerial investigation. Chinese patients have to pay up to 300 yuan for tablets that cost only 30 yuan to manufacture.

(c) Tom Varco/Wikimedia Commons

Andrew Witty is not only CEO of GlaxoSmithKline but also a business confidante of the British prime minister. He serves as a member of Cameron’s business advisory group. In response to the Chinese probe into his company’s financial dealings, Witty sent head of emerging markets Abbas Hussain to manage GSK’s response to the authorities’ accusations. The probe is expected to be completed this month.

GSK’s drug sales in the growing Asian superpower have plummeted since the probe began with a decline of 61%, which Witty has blamed on ‘scaremongering’ by the Chinese media. Last year, GSK made sales revenues of £759 million through pharmaceuticals and vaccines and had sustained a year-on-year increase in profitability in China’s rapidly growing medicines market, until Chinese consumers’ confidence in GSK was dampened by strong local media coverage of the scandal.

In response to the allegations, Witty said: “The activities described by the authorities are very serious and totally unacceptable. They are contrary to our values and to everything I believe in. We very clearly recognise there is a profound need to earn the trust of Chinese people again. We will take every action to do so.

We continue to fully co-operate with the authorities and respect the progress of the investigation. As such there is very little further I can say.

Earlier in July, GSK had promised full co-operation with authorities including closing down the travel agencies and conducting a ‘thorough review’ of all historic transactions conducted via the agencies and medics. An unidentified GSK spokesperson said “GSK shares the desire of the Chinese authorities to root out corruption. These allegations are shameful and we regret this has occurred“. The company has carried out a prior investigation internally into its financial practices and has found no evidence of wrongdoing or corruption, and promised to co-operate fully with the Chinese police.

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SOURCES:
Half-Eaten Mind on Twitter LINK
HuffPost UK on Twitter LINK
“GSK CEO Andrew Witty Joins David Cameron In China Amid Bribery Probe” – Asa Bennett, The Huffington Post UK/AOL (UK) Limited/HPMG News (2 December 2013) LINK
“GlaxoSmithKline accused of ‘criminal godfather’ behaviour in China” – Malcolm Moore, The Telegraph via Yahoo! Finance UK & Ireland/Yahoo! – News Network (15 July 2013) LINK
IMAGE CREDIT: 
“File:Lexapro pills.jpg” – Tom Varco, Wikimedia Commons (8 August 2006) LINK